Jennifer Noseworthy’s diagnosis of breast cancer wasn’t 100 per cent confirmed when she reached out for support.
Now 41, the New Brunswick native had been in Corner Brook with her husband for about a year when she was diagnosed in July 2015 at the age of 38.
“There was a lot of unknowns,” said Noseworthy.
“There was just so many questions and everything.”
She found the support and some of the answers she was seeking through a local group known as Breast Friends.
The breast cancer support group, which meets once a month at the Corner Brook Womens Centre, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Thursday night.
Around the time of her diagnosis, Noseworthy saw a poster for the group in the radiology department at Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
The contact person for the group was Joan Penney and Noseworthy recognized her name from the church she attends.
So one day after church she connected with Penney.
Breast Friends didn’t meet in the summer, but Penney put her in contact with other women in the group.
Noseworthy said it was important for her to have those connections with women who had a similar experience to hers and with some who were close to her age as she waited to find out more and for a plan of how to deal with it.
Noseworthy is a nurse who now works as a nursing instructor.
She checked her breasts, but hadn’t really noticed changes in them.
“There was no lump.”
What drew her attention was a slightly raised area near her collarbone. She thought it was just from a pulled muscle and had a chest X-ray.
Following some massage therapy she found a lump under her armpit and a more defined lump in her breast.
She went back to her doctor, who sent her for an urgent mammogram.
While some people immediately think of the worst-case scenario, Noseworthy didn’t.
“I was taking the other approach.”
She told herself lots of people have mammograms and are fine, and then with the biopsy it was lots of people have biopsies and there’s nothing to it.
“Maybe a bit of denial,” she said.
But the results were clear, the raised area at her collar bone meant the cancer had gone into her lymph nodes and she was diagnosed with stage three, grade 3, triple negative breast cancer — an aggressive and fast-growing cancer.
Noseworthy wanted a bilateral mastectomy, but because of the advanced stage the doctor did not want to delay treatment because of surgery.
Instead, she started chemotherapy right away and had six treatments between July 21 and Nov. 2. In December she had her left breast and 22 lymph nodes removed and in January 2016 started radiation treatment. She had her right breast removed a few months after the end of her treatment and next month she’ll mark two years post treatment.
Things are good now, except for some issues with lymphedema, and she tries to lead a healthy life.
“I try to keep the important things in focus and not sweat the small stuff. I’m sometimes more successful than at other times, but I’m learning more and more.”
And she still has her Breast Friends, who continue to be a source of support.
Meets the last Thursday of the month at the Corner Brook Womens Centre. Meetings start at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Joan at 785-7465 or Shirley at 785-5247.